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US$ 7.2 Million to Boost Climate Change Resilience

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz (standing, left) and General Manager, Country Department, Caribbean Group, Inter-American Development Bank, Therese Turner Jones (standing, right), observe as (from left) Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Audrey Sewell; Managing Director, Development Bank of Jamaica, Milverton Reynolds; General Manager, JN Small Business Loans, Gillian Hyde; and Programme Manager, Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ), Allison Rangolan McFarlane sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Adaptation Programme and Financing Mechanism Project at Jamaica House, in St. Andrew, on July 28. Under the initiative, US$7.2 million will be made available to micro, small and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs) in the tourism and agricultural sectors to finance climate-change adaptation initiatives islandwide.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz (standing, left) and General Manager, Country Department, Caribbean Group, Inter-American Development Bank, Therese Turner Jones (standing, right), observe as (from left) Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Audrey Sewell; Managing Director, Development Bank of Jamaica, Milverton Reynolds; General Manager, JN Small Business Loans, Gillian Hyde; and Programme Manager, Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ), Allison Rangolan McFarlane sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Adaptation Programme and Financing Mechanism Project at Jamaica House, in St. Andrew, on July 28. Under the initiative, US$7.2 million will be made available to micro, small and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs) in the tourism and agricultural sectors to finance climate-change adaptation initiatives islandwide.

A total of US$7.2 million will be made available to micro, small and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs) in the tourism and agricultural sectors, to finance climate change adaptation initiatives islandwide.

The money, which will be in the form of loans and grants, is being provided under the Adaptation Programme and Financing Mechanism Project, a component of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) in Jamaica.

The Project is a five-year initiative which aims to increase Jamaica’s resilience to climate change, through enhancing adaptive capacity across priority sectors.

This component of the PPCR is being implemented by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

The initiative was formalised during a signing ceremony at Jamaica House in St. Andrew, on July 28.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Audrey Sewell; Managing Director, Development Bank of Jamaica, Milverton Reynolds; General Manager, JN Small Business Loans, Gillian Hyde; and Programme Manager, Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ), Allison Rangolan McFarlane.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, said the Government intends to increase its efforts to pursue long-term, transformative development and accelerate sustainable, climate-resilient economic growth.

“As a Government, we have pledged to protect the environment while creating jobs to drive the engine of economic growth, and we cannot allow climate change and other environmental impacts to impede us,” he said.

The Minister thanked all the partners involved in the initiative, noting that it represents an excellent opportunity to build on the work that has already begun in fostering sustainable development through partnership.

For her part, Ms. Hyde said the new loan facility will be open to qualified MSME beneficiaries who will be eligible for a loan amount between $200,000 and $5 million.

She pointed out that the loan will be available at a maximum interest rate of four per cent per annum.

For her part, Ms. Rangolan McFarlane said the money will be accessible to community-based organisations, non-governmental organisations, other civil-society groups and selected public-sector agencies, for clearly defined high-priority activities.

She added that these should be related to building the resilience of the natural environment and contributing to livelihood protection and poverty reduction.

General Manager, Country Department, Caribbean Group, Inter-American Development Bank, Therese Turner Jones, said the initiative is another in a series of partnerships to assist in the development of the country.

“We are looking to see how this pilot is going to work, so we can think about replicating this elsewhere in the region,” she said, adding that the initiative is the first of its kind in the Caribbean.

The project involves a Climate Change Adaptation Line of Credit and a special Climate Change Adaptation Fund.

The Line of Credit will provide loan financing to help MSMEs in the tourism and agricultural sectors to adapt to the impacts of climate change.  The loans will be administered by the JN Small Business Loans Limited. The sum of US$2.5 million is being provided for this.

The Adaptation Fund will provide grants to adaptation and disaster risk reduction projects and finance the associated programme management costs.

Grants will be provided using the successful EFJ grant-making model. The EFJ will be the Fund Administrator for the US$4.7 million being provided.

Credit: Jamaica Information Service

State Minister Commends CCIC for Support of Entrepreneurs

Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson (right) and Counsellor and Head, Development Cooperation, at the Canadian High Commission, Walter Bernyck (second left), with grant recipients and innovators (from left): Robert Wright, Shirley Lindo, Harlo Mayne and Dr. Kert Edward, at a cocktail reception to highlight the work of the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC), held at the Scientific Research Council (SRC), in St. Andrew, on September 16.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson (right) and Counsellor and Head, Development Cooperation, at the Canadian High Commission, Walter Bernyck (second left), with grant recipients and innovators (from left): Robert Wright, Shirley Lindo, Harlo Mayne and Dr. Kert Edward, at a cocktail reception to highlight the work of the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC), held at the Scientific Research Council (SRC), in St. Andrew, on September 16.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, has lauded the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC) for its support of Caribbean entrepreneurs.

“This is a programme that encourages entrepreneurs to come up with solutions. You provide funding,  so that they can build a solution which won’t necessarily just solve a problem in Jamaica, or the Caribbean, but which can solve problems globally,” Mr. Robinson said.

The State Minister was speaking at a cocktail reception to highlight the work of the  CCIC, held at the Scientific Research Council (SRC), in St. Andrew, on September 16.

The CCIC is a joint project of the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute, World Bank and the SRC. It was designed to identify and support Caribbean entrepreneurs and new ventures that are developing locally appropriate solutions to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Phase One of the project was highly successful, as 11 entrepreneurs were selected as proof of concept winners and awarded grants ranging from US$10,000 to US$50,000, totalling approximately US$425,000. The winners were from Jamaica, Antigua, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia and Belize.

The four Jamaican winners are Shirley Lindo, Castor Oil Briquettes; Dr. Kert Edward, Fibre Optic Solar Indoor Lighting; Robert Wright,  Pedro Banks Renewable Energy; and Harlo Mayne, for his H2-Flex Hydrogen Hybrid Project.

Meanwhile, the State Minister noted that one of the challenges facing entrepreneurs is the inability to access non-banking financing, such as venture funding.

“There are some developments that are taking place in a positive way in that regard. The Development Bank of Jamaica has an initiative on venture capital, and there are a couple of private angel investor groups that have been established, all of which are positive for the development of innovation and entrepreneurship,” Mr. Robinson said.

He pointed out that the innovations that are a part of the CCIC, fit right into the plans that the Government has in terms of building a sustainable energy policy.

For his part, Executive Director of the SRC, Dr. Cliff Riley, said the CCIC is looking forward to moving on to Phase Two of the project.

“We are looking to see how we can drive entrepreneurship and create a spirit of innovation in Jamaica and in the Caribbean region,” Dr. Riley said.

Phase Two of the project will provide: proof of concept grant funding for new cohorts of entrepreneurs; training (including access to financing, market development and business incubation training); mentoring and networking opportunities; and specific business incubation services.

The project, which is housed at the SRC, caters to the Caribbean Community, including Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Credit: Jamaica Information Service

Lessons from Jamaica’s Billion-Dollar Drought

The Yallahs River, one of the main water sources for Jamaica's Mona Reservoir, has been dry for months. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

The Yallahs River, one of the main water sources for Jamaica’s Mona Reservoir, has been dry for months. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

As Jamaica struggles under the burden of an ongoing drought, experts say ensuring food security for the most vulnerable groups in society is becoming one of the leading challenges posed by climate change.

“The disparity between the very rich and the very poor in Jamaica means that persons living in poverty, persons living below the poverty line, women heading households with large numbers of children and the elderly are greatly disadvantaged during this period,” Judith Wedderburn, Jamaica project director at the non-profit German political foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), told IPS.

“The food production line gets disrupted and the cost of food goes up, so already large numbers of families living in poverty have even greater difficulty in accessing locally grown food at reasonable prices.” — Judith Wedderburn of FES

“The concern is that as the climate change implications are extended for several years that these kinds of situations are going to become more and more extreme, [such as] greater floods with periods of extreme drought.”

Wedderburn, who spoke with IPS on the sidelines of a FES and Panos Caribbean workshop for journalists held here earlier this month, said Caribbean countries – which already have to grapple with a finite amount of space for food production – now have the added challenges of extreme rainfall events or droughts due to climate change.

“In Jamaica, we’ve had several months of drought, which affected the most important food production parishes in the country,” she said, adding that the problem does not end when the drought breaks.

“We are then affected by extremes of rainfall which results in flooding. The farming communities lose their crops during droughts [and] families associated with those farmers are affected. The food production line gets disrupted and the cost of food goes up, so already large numbers of families living in poverty have even greater difficulty in accessing locally grown food at reasonable prices and that contributes to substantial food insecurity – meaning people cannot easily access the food that they need to keep their families well fed.”

One local researcher predicts that things are likely to get even worse. Dale Rankine, a PhD candidate at the University of the West Indies (UWI), told IPS that climate change modelling suggests that the region will be drier heading towards the middle to the end of the century.

“We are seeing projections that suggest that we could have up to 40 percent decrease in rainfall, particularly in our summer months. This normally coincides with when we have our major rainfall season,” Rankine said.

“This is particularly important because it is going to impact most significantly on food security. We are also seeing suggestions that we could have increasing frequency of droughts and floods, and this high variability is almost certainly going to impact negatively on crop yields.”

He pointed to “an interesting pattern” of increased rainfall over the central regions, but only on the outer extremities, while in the west and east there has been a reduction in rainfall.

“This is quite interesting because the locations that are most important for food security, particularly the parishes of St. Elizabeth [and] Manchester, for example, are seeing on average reduced rainfall and so that has implications for how productive our production areas are going to be,” Rankine said.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced recently that September 2014 was the hottest in 135 years of record keeping. It noted that during September, the globe averaged 60.3 degrees Fahrenheit (15.72 degrees Celsius), which was the fourth monthly record set this year, along with May, June and August.

According to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Centre, the first nine months of 2014 had a global average temperature of 58.72 degrees (14.78 degrees Celsius), tying with 1998 for the warmest first nine months on record.

Robert Pickersgill, Jamaica’s water, land, environment and climate change minister, said more than 18,000 small farmers have been affected by the extreme drought that has been plaguing the country for months.

He said the agricultural sector has lost nearly one billion dollars as a result of drought and brush fires caused by extreme heat waves.

Pickersgill said reduced rainfall had significantly limited the inflows from springs and rivers into several of the country’s facilities.

“Preliminary rainfall figures for the month of June indicate that Jamaica received only 30 per cent of its normal rainfall and all parishes, with the exception of sections of Westmoreland (54 percent), were in receipt of less than half of their normal rainfall. The southern parishes of St Elizabeth, Manchester, Clarendon, St Catherine, Kingston and St. Andrew and St. Thomas along with St Mary and Portland were hardest hit,” Pickersgill said.

Clarendon, he said, received only two percent of its normal rainfall, followed by Manchester with four percent, St. Thomas six percent, St. Mary eight percent, and 12 percent for Kingston and St. Andrew.

Additionally, Pickersgill said that inflows into the Mona Reservoir from the Yallahs and Negro Rivers are now at 4.8 million gallons per day, which is among the lowest since the construction of the Yallahs pipeline in 1986, while inflows into the Hermitage Dam are currently at six million gallons per day, down from more than 18 million gallons per day during the wet season.

“It is clear to me that the scientific evidence that climate change is a clear and present danger is now even stronger. As such, the need for us to mitigate and adapt to its impacts is even greater, and that is why I often say, with climate change, we must change,” Pickersgill told IPS.

Wedderburn said Jamaica must take immediate steps to adapt to climate change.

“So the challenge for the government is to explore what kinds of adaptation methods can be used to teach farmers how to do more successful water harvesting so that in periods of severe drought their crops can still grow so that they can have food to sell to families at reasonable prices to deal with the food insecurity.”

 Credit: IPS News
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